When the new Congress convenes in January, the Democratic-controlled House could make big changes to the next farm bill. But farmers may have to wait a while for it.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky came out the day after Election Day touting the farm bill as a lame-duck session priority. But up to now, the Senate hasn’t had the votes to approve a bill containing enhanced work requirements for people who receive food assistance, which the House bill includes.
Before election results were in, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters if Democrats took control of the House, a one-year extension would be the more likely option for the lame duck.
“I would guess, unless the House very quickly backs down on food stamps,” Grassley said, “that we’re going to have a one-year extension and debate a new farm bill next year.”
But in the same conversation, he acknowledged a possible bright side to a Democratic majority in the House.
“I would have a much better chance of getting my payment limitations put into the bill,” he said. “Now, I’m not hoping for a Democratic Congress for that to happen.”
Grassley wants to limit how much farmers can earn and still receive farm program payments. He says the Republican chairman of the House agriculture committee, Mike Conaway of Texas, steered through a farm bill that would strip away the minimal restrictions that currently exist.
In the last round of farm bill negotiations, the bill expired in 2012, was extended for a year and then a bit longer, and finally became the Agricultural Act of 2014.